March 1, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “A Million Little Things”


This season, ABC’s A MILLION LITTLE THINGS provided proof that even as viewers accustom themselves to DVRs and video on demand, old-fashioned network scheduling can still be key.  A Million Little Things was languishing on Wednesdays, on the bubble for next season, when a move behind Grey’s Anatomy allowed it to thrive, and led to a Season 2 renewal.

A Million Little Things needed the help, because DJ Nash’s series is a hard show to market.  Unlike the vast bulk of network dramas, it’s neither a soapy procedural, a procedural-ish soap, nor a fantasy-adventure (soapy or not).  It’s a show about relationships, and the only series it resembles is This Is Us (no accident, of course), although the bonds it explores are mostly of friendship, rather than biological.

Like This Is Us, A Million Little Things traffics in puzzles and mysteries about its characters’ lives, the solutions to which are played out at maximum length and with a large supply of tantalizing hints.  The major mystery of the season, introduced in the opening of the pilot, was the suicide of Jon (Ron Livingston), the seemingly happy and successful buddy to Eddie (David Giuntoli), Rome (Romany Malco) and Gary (James Roday), husband of Delilah (Stephanie Szostak), and father of Sophie (Lizzie Greene) and Danny (Chance Hustfield).

Over the course of the season, we learned of Jon’s financial and marital problems (Delilah was having an affair with Eddie), but the big reveal came in tonight’s season finale, written by Nash and directed by James Griffiths.  It turned out that Jon had barely missed a flight on September 11, 2001 that flew into the World Trade Center, but his best friend at the time had perished in the crash.  Although the script was careful to note that suicides are more complicated than a single fact, clearly the idea was that Jon’s brush with death, and his survivor’s guilt over the fate of his friend, had drawn him to befriend Eddie, Rome and Gary, all damaged in their own ways, and had led to or aggravated his emotional fragility.

It was certainly a big swing–maybe too big.  A Million Little Things isn’t a show that deals much with real life, other than characters expressing concern over money issues from time to time, and pulling in the key event of this century for purposes of a season finale twist threatened to feel like a mere storytelling convenience.  The writing seemed out of its depth, and would probably be well-advised to stay in its lane in the future.

This being a finale, there were luckily plenty of other bits of story news.  Gary’s girlfriend Maggie (Allison Miller) found out that her cancer was in remission, and moved in with Gary; Rome and his wife Regina (Christina Moses) opened a crack in their relationship over the issue of having children; and Eddie’s marriage to Katherine (Grace Park), which fell apart when Eddie’s adultery was exposed, appeared to be on the road to reconciliation, apart from the fact that he hadn’t told her that he was the father of the baby Delilah was about to deliver.

Those are the kinds of human-scale stories that A Million Little Things tells compellingly, and it’s served well by its cast, especially Roday (in a slightly more mature version of his wisecracking Psych role), Miller, Park and Szostak.  It’s a show that could improve with age as it recognizes its strengths, or could prove itself frustratingly addicted to narrative trickery.  In any case, the fact that it will have the chance to demonstrate what it can do for another season is good news, and since Grey’s (which became the longest-running medical drama in TV history tonight, surpassing ER) is apparently never going anywhere, its shade may protect A Million Little Things for some time to come.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."